General News of Wednesday, 26 July 2017
The Leader and the Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Kofi Portuphy, has stated that the implementation of the Representation of the People’s (Amendment) Act 2006 (Act 699) (ROPAA) raises a lot of questions and concerns which needs to be addressed before its enforcement.
Mr Portuphy said, for instance, issues with cost, transparency, polling agents among others militated against the implementation of the law.
Answering a question on the ROPAA at a forum to assess the six months of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the party’s Adabraka headquarters in Accra last week Thursday, Mr Portuphy raised questions on the travelling expenses of Ghanaians in the diaspora who might have to travel from their residents to cast their ballots at the nearest Ghanaian embassies and high commissions since the government would not be able to create polling stations in their home countries.
He also asked how the various political parties would be able to sponsor polling agents to monitor the election in the countries where voting would take place, as well as how transparent those voting would be in the absence of agents of political parties taking part in the election.
He said until such pertinent questions and concerns were resolved, it could be dangerous to invoke and implement the law.
Effective institutional arrangements
To buttress Mr Portuphy’s concerns, the Vice Chairman and Director of Elections of the NDC, Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, said cyber hacking of election results posed a serious challenge to the implementation of the law.
Mr Ofosu-Ampofo explained that unless proper and effective institutional arrangements were put in place, it would be very dangerous and slippery to implement the law.
Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution on the right to vote stipulates that, ‘’Every citizen of Ghana of 18 years of age and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda’’.
Parliament passed ROPAA (Act 699) in 2006 to enable Ghanaians living abroad to vote in national elections.
The High Court has ordered the Electoral Commission (EC) to produce evidence of concrete steps it is taking to implement the Representation of the People Amendment Act (ROPAA),
Three years after President John Mahama urged Ghanaians in the diaspora to make a strong case to the EC for the implementation of the law.
The law permits hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians Living Abroad (GLAs)] to continue to register abroad and ensure that a category of citizens studying abroad or working in Ghana’s Missions/Embassies abroad vote in public elections and referenda while living abroad to the exclusion of the applicants.
Ex-President Mahama backs ROPAA
While speaking at a meeting with the Ghanaian community in Worcester, Massachusetts, in the United States of America in 2014, the then President Mahama, said the directive issued by the Supreme Court in its ruling on the 2012 Presidential Election Petition for the EC to make reforms in its operations, provided a good opportunity for Ghanaians living abroad to forcefully put their case before the commission to extend voting rights to them.
President Nana Akufo-Addo backs ROPAA
President Nana Akufo-Addo while interacting with the Ghanaian community in Lome, Togo, as part of his two-day working visit in May, this year, assured Ghanaians living abroad to his commitment to ensure the full ROPAA to give them the opportunity to exercise their franchise in local elections.
He said the law was passed to make it possible for Ghanaians abroad to cast their votes and wondered why, since the passage of the law, it had remained dormant on the statute books.
The intended amendment was to, among other issues, change Section 8 of PNDCL 284, which restricted overseas voting to only Ghanaian employees of the Republic, the United Nations, and other international organisations.
It also aimed at removing the requirement in Section 7 of PNDCL 284 that locally, in order to register to vote, one must have continuously inhabited an area for six months leading to the date of qualification.
This eventually led to the passage of Act 699, which gives the right to Ghanaians living abroad other than foreign mission workers and students to partake in the electoral processes of Ghana, irrespective of their destination.
The EC cites cost as one of the logistics of ROPAA implementation that they needed time to study.